UN chief and rights groups raise concerns over Rohingya deal


Concerns are growing among United Nations agencies and humanitarian groups over an agreement between the Bangladesh and Myanmar governments to repatriate several hundred thousand Rohingya refugees within two years. Bangladesh state media reported on Wednesday that the first batch of Rohingya would be sent back to Myanmar next week. Rights groups said it remained unclear whether refugees would be forced to return against their will. The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the repatriation deal finalised in the Myanmar capital, Naypyidaw, on Tuesday also needed to clarify whether Rohingya would be permitted to return to their homes or live in specially built camps.

“The worst would be to move these people from camps in Bangladesh to camps in Myanmar,” Guterres said at a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York. The deal included no role for the UN refugee agency, he added, making it difficult to “guarantee that the operation abides by international standards”. About 750,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after army crackdowns in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state starting in October 2016 and August last year. The Muslim minority have faced decades of systemic oppression in Myanmar; the US government has described the most recent violence as ethnic cleansing.(theguardian)…[+]